Coalition of civil society groups call for greater action on fuel poverty and to cut fossil fuels in upcoming Energy Independence Plan

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Coalition of civil society groups call for greater action on fuel poverty and to cut fossil fuels in upcoming Energy Independence Plan

39 organisations spanning fuel poverty, social justice and environmental campaigns have today [15.03.2022] written to the government calling for greater support for vulnerable households and for decarbonisation to help bolster the UKs energy security in the imminent Energy Independence Plan and Spring Statement. 

The joint letter, addressed to the Prime Minister, Chancellor and Business Secretary, calls for immediate extra support for households facing huge energy price rises, scaled up measures to reduce our gas use and a shift away from fossil fuels to renewable energy. 

Measures called for include targeted support that covers the expected rise in energy bills for households on low incomes, long term funding and support for insulation and heat pumps, an expansion of wind and solar energy, and a commitment to rule out new North Sea oil and gas and keep the fracking ban in place.

The letter, signed by groups ranging from E3G and Greenpeace UK to Save the Children UK comes after the government announced plans for a new Energy Independence Plan, also trailed as an Energy Supply Plan, aimed at reducing the UK’s exposure to Russian gas supplies in the wake of the war in Ukraine. So far the government has placed greater emphasis on supply side measures to respond to the crisis – including potentially supporting more fossil fuel extraction in the UK, but vital measures to get off gas altogether and reduce our exposure to volatile fossil fuels have not been given much attention. The letter calls on the government to ensure the upcoming energy independence plan protects vulnerable households, lowers bills, tackles the climate emergency, addresses air pollution, and gets the UK off gas.”

Juliet Phillips, Senior Policy Advisor at E3G said:
“Green homes are the most obvious energy security solution which no one is talking about. Energy security starts at home: this means supercharging a renovation wave to cut energy bills and permanently reduce the exposure of families to volatile international gas markets – boosting energy efficiency and rolling out electric heat pumps. The Chancellor and Prime Minister must seize the moment and push forward an ambitious, long-term plan to support warmer, healthier homes which are cheaper to run.”

Rebecca Newsom, Head of Politics at Greenpeace UK said:

“This is a fossil fuel crisis, and new fossil fuels from the likes of fracking or new North Sea oil and gas aren’t going to solve our problems. We can reach true energy freedom and stand up to Putin, but that needs the government to back properly funded measures to support households, accelerate renewables and properly fund home upgrades to reduce our use of gas altogether. Otherwise this risks being yet another plan that props up our dependence on volatile and expensive fossil fuels at just the moment we can least afford it.” 

Dan Paskins, Director of UK Impact, Save the Children UK said:

 “The cost-of-living crisis, fuelled by soaring energy prices, is totally unsustainable and is hitting the lowest-income families the hardest.

Parents are telling us that they’re struggling to meet basic needs, leaving them having to make impossible choices between heating their homes and buying clothes for their children, and children are paying the price.  Without action, things are only going to get harder.

In the upcoming Spring Statement, the Chancellor has an opportunity to ease this burden on families by uprating benefits in line with April’s inflation rate, and invest to keep homes warm and bring fuel bills down.”

ENDS

Contact – press.uk@greenpeace.org – 07500 866 860

Notes to editor

Open Letter

Civil society statement – Energy Independence Plan & Spring Statement 

We are writing as a coalition of 39 civil society groups to call on the Prime Minister, the Chancellor and the Business Secretary to ensure the upcoming energy independence plan protects vulnerable households, lowers bills, tackles the climate emergency, addresses air pollution, and gets the UK off gas. As other European countries rethink their approach to energy security in the face of conflict and geopolitical insecurity, it is time for the UK to do the same.

The plan must secure true energy independence through measures that help us permanently end our reliance on fossil fuels and power the UK with our own abundant, clean, cheap and popular renewable energy. Measures should be backed up with the necessary funding and fiscal support at the Spring Statement, and should include: 

  • Immediate extra support for households: Soaring gas prices could leave 1 in 3 UK households in fuel poverty. At a minimum, the government must ensure that benefits are uprated as close as possible to April’s inflation rate, rather than the planned 3.1%. Failure to do this will result in a second real-terms cut to benefits in six months. Reinstating the £20 universal credit uplift and injecting at least a further £7bn in the benefit system would also significantly lessen the impact of the crisis on the poorest households. The government should also introduce further targeted support that covers the expected rise in energy bills for households on low incomes (including those not protected by the energy price cap). This could involve extra payments for households on Universal Credit, equivalent legacy benefits, and Pension Credit whenever the energy price cap rises significantly, or reinstating the £20 universal credit uplift.  Payments could be delivered via a significantly improved and expanded Warm Homes Discount, or using the social security system.The government should also support public awareness-raising and impartial advice to help households keep their energy bills down.
  • Significantly scale up measures to reduce our use of gas: The best solution to this gas crisis is to use less gas – through better energy efficiency and insulation, and by switching to electric heat pumps. Consistent, long term policy support and funding is needed. The government should immediately fulfil Conservative manifesto commitments to funding energy efficiency through existing schemes, including at least a further £1.4bn for the Home Upgrade Grant and at least £0.2bn for the Social Housing Decarbonisation Scheme. It should also provide at least £3.6bn for a new grant programme to insulate existing homes available to all households and significantly boost installation of heat pumps, supported through a market mechanism and at least an extra £4bn by 2025 to accelerate the transition away from gas heating. These longer-term measures can be supported through the £16bn green gilt and UK Infrastructure Bank, and initiating a new green term funding scheme from the Bank of England to enable cheap credit for retrofits.
  • Shift energy supply to renewables and away from fossil fuels: The government must expand renewable energy sources such as wind and solar, in harmony with nature, to end reliance on gas for electricity generation and increase energy supply to support decarbonisation of heat and transport. To achieve this, sufficient capacity must be allocated across the annual Contracts for Difference auctions, including at least tripling onshore wind and solar capacity by 2030. The government should also remove the onerous planning restrictions which hold back onshore wind. Support should be given to manage the transition away from the industries of the past, to create quality, net zero jobs which will support workers and communities into the future. Further expansion of North Sea drilling should be ruled out and the ban on fracking should remain in place – both of which are unpopular with the public, would worsen the climate crisis, seriously harm the UK’s ability to lead climate action internationally, and fail to reduce energy bills. 
  1. Greenpeace UK 
  2. E3G
  3. Friends of the Earth
  4. Save the Children 
  5. Green Alliance 
  6. Regen  
  7. MCS Charitable Foundation
  8. Wildlife and Countryside Link
  9. New Economics Foundation 
  10. Uplift
  11. Energy Saving Trust
  12. Climate Emergency UK 
  13. Age UK 
  14. Positive Money UK
  15. Nesta
  16. Clean Air Fund 
  17. End Fuel Poverty Coalition
  18. Chartered Institute of Environmental Health
  19. ACAN 
  20. Groundwork 
  21. Possible 
  22. A Rocha UK 
  23. Mums for Lungs 
  24. STEP (Solutions to Tackle Energy Poverty) 
  25. The Climate Coalition 
  26. Faith for the Climate
  27. 38 Degrees
  28. WWF UK 
  29. Platform
  30. BOND
  31. Environmental Justice Foundation
  32. The Wildlife Trusts 
  33. CAFOD
  34. Green New Deal UK 
  35. National Housing Federation 
  36. Asthma + Lung UK 
  37. Tax Justice UK
  38. Oxfam
  39. Global Action Plan

 

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